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RIM Faces Hard Questions at this Week's Developers Conference

Ian Paul | Oct. 18, 2011
Will Blackberry-maker Research In Motion finally lay out clear plans for its next-generation devices on Tuesday during the company's Blackberry DevCon Americas developer conference in San Francisco? That's what some critics are wondering as RIM attempts to overhaul its image following a number of setbacks in recent months. Most recently, the company's reputation was battered from a multi-day service outage leaving Blackberry fans all over the globe without messaging and Internet capabilities.


Along with devices, another big hurdle for RIM to overcome is closing the so-called app gap, and bringing its third-party app catalog up to par with the tens of thousands of apps available to Android and iOS users. RIM hopes to lure Android and Web developers to the Blackberry brand by having them port over their existing applications to run on the PlayBook. To help encourage the effort, RIM is even setting up an express kiosk at DevCon called App Express where RIM representatives will be on hand to help developers port and then submit their apps to Blackberry App World on the spot.

RIM's strategy to port Android apps to the Blackberry platform has been described as a "Hail Mary pass" and a desperate effort to beef up the company's app store. To encourage developers to write native apps for the PlayBook, RIM is also giving away a free PlayBook to conference attendees-- a strategy also embraced by Google at its Android developer conferences.

But with only about 700,000 PlayBooks shipped to stores over the last two financial quarters, RIM's tablet doesn't appear to have much of an audience for developers to capitalize on compared to the millions of iPad and Android tablet users.

RIM definitely has a tough road ahead if it hopes to survive and that road may start Tuesday as the company reaches out to developers who can entice users with slick apps. And perhaps RIM will also hint at what's to come for the company's QNX-based future.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) and Today@PCWorldon Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.


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